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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  June 17, 2010 12:30pm-1:30pm EDT

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>> rose: welcome to our program. tonight, bill gates, melinda gates and warren buffett in an exclusive television, radio, and internet appearance, tell us about the giving pledge. >> you've been making money, giving away is a bit different and you're not sure if you're going to find your way in it, you're going to find something. so it requires taking a little bit of a leap and you don't know how fulfilling that's going to be. the >> the idea to make the commitment, to say don't wait until i think about this later in my life but think about it now and giving. we hope a lot of people will choose to give during their lifetime because it's not just about giving their money. >> i have these little pieces of paper in a safe deposit box which i bought about 40 or 45
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years and they've grown in value enormous lichlt and what they are is claim checks on somethingive in the future. i don't have anything i need in the future. all kinds of people have all kinds of needs. it's a way of cashing those claim checks in a way where people's lives are changed forever. >> rose: the giving pledge next. captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: bill and melinda gates and warren buffett changed
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philanthropy in 2006 and now they have done it again. the three of them said today they're asking america's wealthiest people to pledge at least half of their net worth to charity. they're calling it the giving pledge. it encourages donors to give to their favorite cause but not to any particular foundation. today's announcement does not ask for specific grants, it simply asks for a moral commitment there have been four pledges acknowledged. they are john doer, gary lynn fest and john morgridge. if successful, the pledges could generate $600 billion for a wide variety of specific nats needs. the partnership between the gates and buffett began in 2006 when buffett pledged 9% of his $40 plus billion fortune to the bill and melinda gates foundation. bill and melinda gates and warren buffett came to our table to talk about that extraordinary joining of forces at the time.
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>> it's something i always planned. my wife susie and i planned whatever i made would go back to society and originally i thought she would outlive me and she'd make the big decision on it, the manner. since her death, i had to rethink the best way to get the money into society and have it used in the most effective way. i had a solution staring me in the face. i'd seen bill and melinda do what they have done with their foundation. they've don't it with their own money. they're poured themselves into it. the decisions are great. their goals are similar to mine. so the time is now. >> rose: bill has already given you a book to start reading about these issues. (laughter) >> there will probably be a quiz after the show. >> rose: we'll get to some of those questions. how much do you know about malaria, tuberculosis? >> i think he wants me to contract all of these diseases so i can work on it. (laughter) >> rose: how do you two see the significance of this? for you, for the causes you serve?
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>> well, for us it's just fantastic because we look at it as doubling the impact. the diseases we've already been working on and the education and inequities we've been looking at for so long basically double bid warren's gift and it's incredible the depth we'll be able to go to on these global health issues. >> rose: bill? >> it's a huge responsibility. in some ways if you make mistakes with your own money, you don't feel as bad about it as if it's someone else's. >> rose: (laughs) exactly. >> so now we're more intent on doing it right. it's a very exciting time. the advances in medicine and other things we can do to preleave poverty. we've been making good progress and with the doubling of resources, we think our impact can even more than double. so it's thrilling but it's a huge responsibility. >> rose: the idea for the giving pledge originated with warren buffett and lead to a series of dinners organized by the gates. the first was held in 2009, hosted by david rockefeller at rockefeller university. other dinners across the country
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brought together men and women of huge wealth to talk about the experience of giving. the giving pledge is targeted at the richest billionaires in america. hopefully it will spread around the world. i flew to redmond, washington, labs month to record a conversation about today's announcement with warren and bill and melinda. it's their only television appearance regarding this extraordinary pledge. in addition to this program, carol lieu mishas a story in an article called "the $600 billion challenge" appearing today in "fortune" magazine. at the time of the conversation with bill and melinda d.a. gates and warren buffett on the microsoft campus in redmond, i agreed to delay telecast of this conversation until the joint announcement could be made in "fortune" magazine and on this program. we began first asking bill gates what is the pledge, what they hope it achieves and how it turns out. >> it's quite simple. the idea is that people who are engaged in philanthropy will write a letter talking about
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what they're doing and they make a commitment to give the majority of their wealth either during their life or through their will. and we want to get the people who do this together. we think they can share ideas, learn from each other, encourage others, and so we're kicking this idea off and going to invite lots to join in. >> rose: so you can give any time? >> you can give any time. the idea is to make the commitment. to get over the hurdlef saying "don't wait until i think about this later in my life" but think about it now and think about giving. we hope a lot of people will end up choosing to give during their lifetime because it's not just about giving their money. they can wait until the end if that's what they want to do. but when people start thinking about philanthropy and putting their minds to it, it can change society. so it's neat to talk with people about how they are thinking about it. >> rose: the pledge is a contract or moral obligation? >> it's a moral obligation. we don't want people to go to their lawyers and tell them they need a 40-page document with 28
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escape clauses or something. if... i would say that almost everybody would make a pledge like this would keep it. it's a serious pledge but it's not a legal pledge, it's a moral pledge. >> rose: this is not about the gates foundation. this is about this idea that you hope people will buy into. the driving idea is to have people think about philanthropy, think about what? >> real, it really came out of some dinners that we had with people who are engaged in philanthropy. it's so wonder to feel hear what they're doing, their excitement, how they changed over time and we decided that that was so helpful to us and it drove up the energy in the room for, i think, everybody i through three different dinners we did like that that the discussion became okay, how do you draw other people in? people tend to wait.
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they may not know the neat things going on. so through those discussions, the idea of a pledge came up and by the third dinner it was quite concrete. keep it simple. it's not a pulling, it's not saying some way of giving is right. it's a pledge and the people who take that pledge will be getting together and celebrating the diversity of the way they do things. >> rose: how did the dinners come agent? >> we started originally of talking about the ideas of what stimulated us to give back and how do you stimulate other people to do it? i think warren initially started that conversation with us and we said well, let's get other people together to talk about this. so we had this idea of having this first dinner, which david rockefeller hosted. from there it kind of took on a life of its own because people brought in their own thinking to it and their own ideas. that's where we landed on this idea of, yeah, let's give a pledge. i think one of the cool things we learned in the dinner is that we know philanthropy is very personal so to us it doesn't matter what people give, whether
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it's to culture or climate or humanity or societal issues. it's what they're driven by that gets them to give. we just want to make sure they're thinking about giving and there's energy around that now. >> rose: take me back to the first dinner and what it was like. what was the feeling? what were the questions? >> well, we didn't know going in. david rockefeller was... very nicely hosted the dinner and we had maybe seven... mostly couples. there might have been one two that were there singly. and we just started going around the table. and i asked each either couple or individual to sort of give us the story of the evolution of their own philanthropic thinking and how they got where they are now and what they hope to accomplish. well, it was incredible because it was probably two hours to get around that table, charlie. people, they wanted to talk about their ideas and they wanted to listen to the others. i mean, they were just as interested when the other person was talking as when they were. so by the time we got around that table, i think maybe we were starting to form a little idea that if this sort of
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enthusiasm and commitment could be talked about to others that there might be many people out there who would be... maybe postpone thinking about what thirp going to do with their wealth to get active now. >> rose: what were the kinds of questions people asked? >> well, everyone has their own story of what caused drew them in, how they involve their children, how they learn about that cause. and they had a lot of questions. they... topics came up. there were a lot of different ideas around it, but the general energy and kind of a wish that you could share how much fun it is and that people knew what impact you could have. and one thing more i would like to say is no one said that they felt bad they've given the money. everybody felt more fulfilled, were able to use their creativity in some special ways and they wanted to think about
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how you would share that and it ended up being a very straightforward pledge that's going to lead to people getting together on a regular basis. >> but, charlie, i would bet if... at the three dinners--, maybe there were 20 or so couples involved, i would bet that a number of them-- as committed as they'd been before-- left with new ideas and an even firmer determination to get on with it in terms of what they'd already believed. i mean, it was... you know, maybe that's what happens at church services or something. (laughter) i don't know. but all i can tell you is it was noticeable. >> rose: how are you going to choose who you're going to reach out to to propose a pledge? >> we thought we'd start with you, charlie. (laughter) >> there you go. well, the people who came to the dinner, actually, sever of them came to us right after and said i am really interested in this idea. so we have four people that have said to us we want to be included in trying to help get others to give.
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but we'll reach out to those 20 or so couples that came to the dinner and we and they will continue to reach out to others to say this is something that's doable. this is something we'd like to get people to sign up for. >> rose: is there structure? is there process in >> there's a web site called that people can go to that. 's where we will put up all the pledges so the people who sign the letter that say "i'm going to give away 60%," the letter will be up there, the pledge. and people will write about their philosophy of giving. those will be up on the web site. as well, the web site will link to other places or a lot of other people that have been giving for a long time or think about giving. there's a web site called that helps people think about how do you give your money away and we'll link to those places. >> so somebody comes to you and says i've been reading about this, tell me why i should do a pledge. >> well, you do it only if it appeals to you personally. it's your money.
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i'll tell you what it means to me and what it's meant to a number of other people i've talked to over time. it's different for every person. they've got different kinds of assets, different interests. if somebody in their family was hit by a specific illness they're much more likely to be interested, for example, in research on that or something of the sort. what i would tell them is decide what you want to do. many, many people... rich people live longer. one advantage of being pitch. and so often thoses will are made by people in their late 80s or early 90s when their faculties aren't as good, when their thinking isn't as good. part of the reason i made the decision four or five years ago because beyond think my thinking if i lived to be 90 would be as good as my thinking at 75, or as clear. and we just want people to decide what they want to do but to listen to the experience of others who have decided to go in a given direction and see whether it appeals to them. i think it will appeal to many. >> rose: what has it meant to
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you? >> well, i've had a philosophy really all my life on which it happened with my berkshire share so every share was going to charity. so the truth is i've had everything in life, everything in life, i've ever wanted. i have never given away any money that's caused me to give up a knew voor or dinner or trip to disneyworld or anything of the sort. so it's cost me nothing. so i have these little pieces of paper in a safe deposit box which i bought about 40 or 45 years ago and they've grown in value enormously. and what they are is they're claim checks on something in the future. i don't have anything i need in the future. all kinds of other people have all kinds of needs. and it's a way of cashing those claim checks in a way where people's lives are changed for be t better. mine's already changed for the better it couldn't get better. if those little pieces of pain kerr translate whether it's into children avoiding diseases, becoming better educated, people having a better life in their own age, whatever it may be, that's terrific. i think a lot of people feel tim t same way. >> rose: what has it meant to
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you to be engaged in a philanthropic effort that touches the lives of other people? >> well, it's become, really, our full-time focus and there's so much that can be learned. there's great progress that gets made. there's setbacks. there's partnerships you find. and people who work in the field people who do science. and it's been way more fun, way more engaging than we would have anticipated. and the opportunities are so clear. now, you know, our way of going about it is one of many. but it's been really the most special experience i'd say for me personally and for us doing something together as a couple. >> absolutely. i think... and if you said to us would we be as involved as we are now at the ages we are now? if we looked back when we first got engaged or married, we wouldn't have known we were going to be so drawn in and that it would be such a deepening
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part of our lives. i was just in india in march. the first person i wanted to come back to and talk about it was bill. bill just got back from india saturday morning, we spent a lot of saturday talking about what he learned in india. so to be able to do it together and to see how it's evolved over time for us as a foundation and as a couple, i think that has been really engaging for us and as we talk to these other families when they came to these dinners, hearing how they got started, where they started in one place and evolved, i think that's what it's like for anybody that gets involved for whatever issue they choose. >> rose: are there reasons that people don't do more today? >> well, i think they postpone the decision very often and i think... >> rose: because it's complicated or because they don't know how the go about it? >> some people think, you know, how would i start a foundation or something of the sort. or how will i handle it? just assume they've got a private business worth a great deal of money. but they think how can i start giving money away now without giving away my business. there's answer to all those sort of things and actually in
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talking to these people at these dinners we learn how old they dealt with problems like that. but until they listen to somebody else, some people may just decide "i'll think about that tomorrow." >> rose: it sounds like these were emotional dinners. >> they were. they were. >> people were telling their life stories and how they got where they were. >> i felt like a psychiatrist at some point. i mean, they talked about... most of them had... many of them had children that participated with them. some of them had children that opted out from it. i mean, they had all kinds of different experiences and people were fascinated by it. i mean, you know, you've heard bill and melinda telling about their stories. we heard tale after tale. in our san francisco it may have taken us three hours to get around the table where seven couples spoke. they opened up. they really opened up >> it's a real mind shift. you've been making money. giving away is a bit different.
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and you're not sure if you're going to find something. so it requires taking a little bit of a leap. you don't know how fulfilling that's going to be. you need to pick your scope because otherwise you're going to get more requests than you'll know how to deal with. you need to think about the structure and how you involve people. but it is so fulfilling. and these are very talented people. society is better off if they choose to take some of their insights, some of the great people they know who also want to work in a philanthropic way and draw them in. if they're collaborating with others. you know, even though there's no agenda in the giving pledge, we do expect that people will meet each other and find common causes to work on together. no matter what it may be. and we saw a little bit of that in the after-dinner conversation. so it's... we want more critical mass around this. we want more lessons.
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we want more "hey, think about it now, get involved in an earlier way." and the people at the dinner said yes, this is very straightforward, but it's something they felt that really should be done. >> i think there's two things that bump into... one is people feel they will be swamped with requests. they see their life just being a big lion outside their office or something of the sort. and nobody's looking forward to that. the second thing i think they worry about is their money being used effectively. they'll read a story about this charity or that charity and they're used to having measurements in their own businesses or whatever it may be and things that are very specific. and now you're talking about doing something through other people to help people 10,000 miles away. so they want to learn more about how do you do this right? and if they listen to the kind of people we listen to, they will learn more about how to do it right. and we'll teach them how to say
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no to those people. >> rose: talk about the emotion, what it was like in the room with people at these dinners that served such a pivotal place to turn you guys into creating something special. >> i think that's what surprised us the most. we went into these dinners, we kind of didn't know what to expect. but to hear couples really talk about how they wrestle requested this over time. one couple said... it was really sweet. he said "i always know my wife is going to bring up a big topic about philanthropy when we're driving together on a long drive and she turns the radio down." (laughter) and they went on to talk about the most substantial gifts they'd ever given, their first enormous gift and how that led to other gifts and how they think about it. what was so neat about the dinners is people talking about how this early part of their life how they thought about making money but then how their mind was shifting and how some of the small gifts were impactful to them but how the large gifts were, too. to hear them share with one
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another. here's where i started with my target, i didn't know where to go but here's how i learned. somebody else said "i thought about that. how did you tack this will particular piece?" a lot of people were talking about in some cases education in the united states if that's what they're interested in. or climate change. so i think that's what drew us in. one of the things peter singer talks about in his book about saving lives is he says, you know, we do our what reference set does. so if you see somebody in your reference set doing what feels right to you and you see them having success and actually making change, you're more liabilityly to act and be at your best. i think for us sitting around that table, we were sitting with our reference set and we were hearing amazing things we didn't expect to hear. >> rose: what's the metric of success? >> of the giving pledge? >> i think it's saying that we've gotten people earlier in their life. this reference group of people and this set of billionaires to think earlier in their life about how they're going to give money back. whether it's during their lifetime or at their death, but that they plan for it. they haven't pushed that decision off.
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and they've started to think about it and get going. if we've done that and said that is the way to think about philanthropy, you should think about these resources going back to society, enthink think we will have started the conversation and felt great about it. >> in 2008, that was the most recent estate tax figures. the estate tax forms that were filed, less than 40,000 of them, showed estates of about $230 billion. that's one year in the united states. about 12% of that was left to charity of that $230 billion. and i would hope ten, 20, 30 years from now that that number is a lot bigger than that. and i'll bet it will be. >> rose: if this is a roaring success, what are the possibilities and from t difference it can make? >> well, the history of philanthropy is an amazing thing. the libraries in america, carnegie had a lot to do with that. some of the medical research. rockefeller had a lot to do with that. highlighting causes that later
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became something the government got involved with, looking at the schools that the blacks were going into the south, rockefeller gave a lot of money to that and really showed the incredible injustice that was there. so we're building on a legacy of some brilliant work that really made a difference. and even in this era, we have people like george soros who've been creative going into the new societies in eastern europe and trying to get those going and i think made a huge difference. he took a big risk that's so creative. people like chuck heaney have done amazing things. so if you look, there are models. now, we want diversity. we don't want people to fall into exactly the same patterns that other people have, because the new ideas are so catalytic. but it really makes a difference. and it's kind of the best of capitalism. somebody makes money-- which is very enjoyable and you get, as warren said, you lack for nothing-- and then hopefully you're taking that ability and
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you're being smart that you say, okay, i was lucky, now let me create good circumstances for other people. in education, i know there's a lot of philanthropists that are funding things. it's making a huge difference. in global health and climate. there's a broad set of things that would never happen without philanthropy. >> rose: but the point is-- an you said there to me in a previous conversation in november of 2009-- it's really when you think about what could be done and how huge the problems are, what we're getting from philanthropy today is just a small beginning. >> beginning. it is just the tip of the iceberg. but it can be used as a wedge on so many societal issues. if you look back 250 years ago, adam smith used to say that it was almost futile to even know what was going on around the world because you couldn't reach out and help somebody on another continent with their issues. now we're so connected as a world both from transportation to communication, we even have
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people at very small levels. you can go up on the web site and give something through key and help a woman with her farm in africa or in the u.s. teachers post what they need in their classroom and through i can go and say i want to make sure she gets the lesson plan funded she needs for her science lab. we're that connected. so whether you want to give in your local community, you want to give to something in the united states, you want to give something across the globe, it's easy to do now. for me that's the moment in time we're at now with philanthropy. and that's why this is so exciting. >> this is 50% of wealth being pledged. but there are people who've got similar impulses that don't have money. but they can pledge 10% of their time or something of the sort. the idea is really to have everybody thinking about the subject. now we're not... we can't do it totally, but everybody has the opportunity, whether it's some young kid or whatever it may be and i give them every bit of credit and maybe more than some
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guy like me who just hands over some stock certificates. >> rose: but that is, in fact, a very important point is the notion of connecting to what you can do is not limited to being a billionaire. this is not a billionaire's club. >> no. >> rose: that somehow has got together to say maybe we can make a difference. it is a powerful idea that has potential. >> and it's the right thing for that set to do. but really, you know, lots of people are talking about giving back and people do things that are a lot more difficult than i think any of the three of us or the billionaires do themselves. when they're giving their time or they're giving half of what they make in a week and they have modest means, to me, those are my heroes in philanthropy. and we're saying this is what we think is right for the people we know, but there's lots of people we hope will be inspired by this and lots of people we already know that are giving. >> rose: you mentioned peter singer who has a whole series of ways that certain income levels who are way below a billion dollars that you can make a certain percentage of the money and the difference it can make. >> absolutely. tor family that talked about the
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book they wrote. they gave half away as a family. they said we're going to take $800,000 and give it away and sell our dream house. they were his tent to go public with it because they said they're not trying to make a statement but they felt so good about it that they decided that was something they should talk about. >> rose: what are the lessons you have learned? >> well, you've got to get into the specific areas to start learning. some problems are very difficult. education is so important, every little bit of improvement can help there. >> rose: in fact, you have said education is much harder than global health. >> yeah. it... (laughter) it may be... >> rose: changing? >> it's not as subject to breakthroughs. we found that there are lots of people out there who aren't getting funded. whether it's education innovators or whether it's scientists doing new vaccines. and it takes time before you can draw those people in.
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and so i love the fact that lots of philanthropists focus on a pretty small number of things. that you try and do everything, you're not going to get the joy of really knowing it deeply and having that expertise. and for us, we picked a couple things to help. health and education are the biggest things. we're very happy we did. that we're going to stick with those because it's our focus. but we've got to cover the waterfront. we've got to have lots of different givers because there are many causes that we're not involved in that have got to be backed. >> rose: there's a kind of group support that comes out of it. >> and that's why we gather... after people pledge, we'll gather them once a year to talk about these issues and let them have work shops. we hope this will take on a life of its own so they'll target about... talk about how did you
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get started? we'll keep joining, we'll keep learning, too. but we hope this takes on its own life. >> people wrestled with the idea of how to get their kids involved. some have been successful, some haven't. but more will be successful if they listen to the ones that were successful. >> rose: it's said that the entrepreneurs today, younger treps, are thinking more about philanthropy earlier than they ever have before. entrepreneur. is that yours on administration? >> i think that's fair. most of the examples from the fast most people waited fairly long. now when you have things like technology fortunes that are made in your 30s or 40s, that's kind of different. you can get to your 50s or even earlier and actually consider should i shift my attention to this? or can i in parallel keep doing my work and yet be giving my wealth away in a way that has impact? i first was reluctant to have the two different activities. melinda and i talked about that
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and found a way of making it work. and you're going to have a lot more decades of very successful people deeply engaged in these issues. that really wasn't typical if you go back in the history of philanthropy. >> rose: if somebody comes to you and says look, i want to do it the way you did. i want a hands-on involvement. should i do it or not? what would you say? >> if you're enthused to do that then clearly you should do it. because the trips you take, the people you meet will draw you in as much as whatever the wonderful contribution you made in making that fortune. and it broadens you as a person to be involved in these things. >> absolutely. >> rose: you've been involved in it longer full time than he's been involved in it full time. what's the evolution in your thinking about philanthropy and its possibilities and its to ten
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snshl >> well, you know, i used to sometimes almost worry. i go out the to india or bangladesh and think, oh, my gosh, am i going to come back overwhelmd? there's so much need. but in fact you go on the trips and every time you do one you come back and see a nugget or a possibility or a way to do something. and so i would come back so energized and then bill and i would sit down and talk about it and we'd read a lot more, gather experts around us, and they would show us what's... we'd learn the whole systematic problem. then they would show us what's possible. ever time we came back it was a building on itself. and i would say that's still the way of our philanthropy. we're still learning in all the areas we chose in our target areas. but we did at some point say these are our targets, these the places we'll focus. when warren made his unbelievable gift in 2006, he said keep doing what you're doing, don't try to broaden out, but keep taking risks. that's the thing we keep doing is saying how do we learn in these areas and get better and build over time as a couple and 0, with those that surround us. >> i think people get put off at
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first because somebody who's analytic, you have to say, oh, wow, these schools are way worse than i thought. and the food situation of a poor person in africa is way worse than i thought. you think, okay that's kind of a downer. but as soon as you know that level and you say look at where they get women's groups in or they bet getter seeds or you encourage government to take its resources and use them in a better way you start to see the success stories. so melinda is saying the team at that point is much more... okay, we know where it is and we're no longer ignoring it. >> rose: so you've talked to people in london, paris, elsewhere. how is their response different than the american response, if it is? >> well, i'd say one divide we saw is that if it's a first generation fortune, the person involved made that fortune, they feel a latitude to decide, okay, a lot of this should go back to
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society and to pick exactly what that theme is. because america's had more of those self-made fortunes where you could get enough capital, there was risk taking that it can happen in a dramatic way, we've had more philanthropy. where you see in places like india and china, now some of that taking place, there are great examples of people who've committed to give away not just half but in some cases virtually all of their money. so i'm not sure that there's that much cultural difference. i do think it's value to believe get that initial innovateer thinking hard about what should happen to these... what warren calls claim checks. >> rose: yeah. the idea, too, that is fascinating to read about this is the sense of how desperate the money is needed. as much as you guys have and as much as the foundation has, there's so much more needed that
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the central fact the need more more funds. >> it's huge. and anybody who gets into this... you know, their fund canning only be catalytic, it can only be the wedge because the money that comes out of philanthropy will still be tiny compared to the world's needs. so you have to say how can the thinking that comes from these organizations or the risks that these organizations will take because they'll think of a problem in a rent way or tackle something in a different way with their money, how will then that then spread to actually change a societal issue? and that's how you've got to... when you focus on the big issues that's how you've got to think about it. >> and that argument, incidentally, there will be certain people who have been successful and if you can show them how their money might be leveraged, that really appeals to them. (laughter) >> rose: leverage is an idea you understand. >> other people, it's just the emotional looking at a child that's been paralyzed. people respond to different motivations.
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the leverage aspect is important. >> and this is the first generation that these issues really are kind of solveable. can everybody on the planet have access to good education? can everybody on the planet have access to the food that they sneed can we take the american dream of opportunity and renew that by having a better education system. these things are within reach. if you were a philanthropist 50 years ago, you know, you weren't... you just weren't going to see that full achievement of what's possible. if you narrowed your vision to your neighborhood or country that was a good way to go about it. but the amount of wealth in the world is phenomenal now and the incentive systems means it's unequally distributed and those incentive systems are very good things. what allows you to have those incredible incentive systems and yet equity? well, philanthropy is one of the
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answers. government programs with philanthropy is the way to have the best of both worlds. >> i would argue even in terms of the wealthy giving to philanthropy. i would argue it's not a bad things in terms of your family. if you look at the rockefeller family and dozens and dozens of dhash come from john d., sr.. i think the fact he behaved as he did in terms of philanthropy and that his son behaved that way, i think it's set a tone for the family that is vastly different than where you've seen people behave in exactly the reverse manner. you know, i would say very few families would be hurt in any way by having active participation in philanthropy and i think many would be helped a lot. in my own case i think it's been very, very good for my family. >> tell me how. >> well, i've had three children and my wife and i enabled them to have their own philanthropic
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activities. i think they've become better citizens. i think they've become better sensitized to the problems people have in this world. i think they raise their own children in turn better. i think they have better values because they've actually been able, really through my wife initially, probably, 99% responsible, but they have been sensitized to what you can do in this world and they've gone out and done it and combined their own energies and talents with the money that was allowed to them. i think they have a better feeling about themselves, i think their children have a better feeling. i know their parents have a better feeling about them. but i think it's a... i think a philanthropic family on balance... i mean, there's all kinds of exceptions. but on balance they're going to feel better about themselves and their progeny than a family that has been hanging on to every single penny. >> when you think about where philanthropy is going and this generation coming up now as
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well. who would have guess add few years ago a pulitzer prize winning book "mountains upon mountains" would be about paul farmer who was backed by there incredible philanthropist in boston, tom white, who at age 63 he meets paul farmer 23, going to harvard medical school. they hook up, paul starts a clinic haiti, he's got multiple clinics in haiti, he's now gone to rwanda and is working with the rwandan government to transform the rwandan health system. because of that linkage, there are college students and i know high school students, it's required reading to read that book. so kids are thinking about philanthropy in a different way. i could change something in the developing world like this guy did. but he needed to be backed by somebody so the pieces have to go hand in hand. but you've got generation thinking early on about how do i give back and what would it mean to my life to give back. that's a great thing. >> rose: are we down the road looking at something more than a web site? are we looking at a structure and organization that if this
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thing gets off the ground in a way that's remarkable, you will need more than a web site to do it? why are you smiling? >> well, i think there will be a movement that does grow and probably gets organized in some way. you can feel that from the 20 or so. they not only want to be doing what they're doing, they want to carry the message to others. >> rose: they want to proselytize. >> they do. and plus there's this aspect about being smart about it. both maybe in the way you handle the assets to get into the giving stream and once it's in the giving stream, how is it handled. who knows? but they will want to share ideas obviously we should help, they should help in setting up some kind of a facility over time that regularly has a... has a forum for sharing those ideas and there will be people that have different ideas about where
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the philanthropy should go. i don't know. i'm not there to judge them. but if they have a good case, let them make it to other people. >> and i think these four families have said they want to be part of it. they will also start to talk amongst their friends. once there's an initial group going, i think it will have an energy of its own and that group will decide how it gets carried out and change over time as they learn what works when we get the first group together in the fall and say what resonates. so that was the idea is to get the momentum to happen and see what comes out of it. but to get people to say this is the right thing for this group. >> these people are doers. >> yeah, yeah, that was clear. >> there were no shrinking vie lots. >> rose: i want to go back to that. tell me what you heard in these meetings that just touched you. >> well, people like chuck feeney who's given almost everything away.
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that's quite a phenomenal story. people like ted turner who was kind of... felt he was blazing new ground and wanted other people to do it as well. then you have people who found needs that were what pulled them in. they didn't even expect to be pulled in but the more they new about the need and the impact they thought, boy we really should do this thing. and many of them talked about their parents and how proud their parents would be. >> and i think the other thing that was really touching in one of the dinners is people talked about their children, how do you include them or not. one of the families talked about having a target on health and human services as a couple. the kids were just getting into their 20s but they'd given the kids some money to help them
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start this out, too, and how the kids have drown them a slightly different direction of health and human services and they feel incredible about the kids and what the kids want to do with the money. and they say look, we're giving as a family, we enjoy doing it together and when we leave and what's left to give is in the hands of our kids and we feel great about how they're doing it they felt about that. >> are there things they should do in order to make this project better? >> i think it's very important that when philanthropy shows something can work that there's some mechanism through the democracy to have government benefit from the experimentation that philanthropy puts forward. i think our system in the united states is a mixed system where we have so much philanthropy, united way giving to many different causes.
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we've actually grown soup that government and this n.g.o. sector are kind of complementary to each other. it was interesting. in china everything is the government today. so we're saying to people we should give or what are you thinking about it? they were saying there's not an established set of things to give to. so maybe these wealthy people in china, partly what they need to do is get that going. so it's very clear here's how to you give to schools. united states is way down the learning curve on that. many of those organizations are sported by a mix of philanthropy and the government. so i i do do think there's a best practice. >> rose: you may not know these numbers but if anybody does you would. if you just took the number or the fortune 400 list of billionaires or whatever the list stops and they would make
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this pledge... >> about $600 billion. (laughter) >> rose: $600 billion. >> yeah. yeah. i'll settle for $550. (laughter) >> rose: stay with me, think about what that could do and think about how much of whatever the nut is that... the gates foundation has today and what percentage you use every year. what are you talking about in terms of annually a contribution to a whole range of things that have a need? >> people give at least 5% because that's the minimum distribution. >> rose: you have to give 5%. >> you can think about 30 billion coming out of a number like that. $30 billion a year is a phenomenal number. even if you're splitting it amongst dozens of causes. the catalytic change that would come out of that would be huge. a lot of that would be spent in the united states. some of it would go outside the united states.
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and there's fertile territory in both places. >> don't forget about foundations pushing on each other and pushing each other's thinking to constantly improve. we've learned from so many people that got early on in the charter school movementtor brod foundation in education. we share a lot of goals but they look at it in a slightly different way. chris hahn and jamie cooper hahn out of london, they have the children's investment fund. we have to hook up with them on h.i.v./aids grants. they have made our grants better by thinking about how we give that money out and how our grantees use the money. >> what is that thinking that so influenced you that you think so so important and how to make the grants. >> they might take a problem in a slight i different way and say okay, you're giving your money in this way but how does the h.i.v. piece hook up with nutrition? the mother has to eat and feed her baby. you're doing nutrition grants but yo r you thinking about the linkages? in their case they had gone one step further than we had.
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so we said lets look at our grants. you want to have this intellectual discourse. we are both coming out of a problem from a slightly different way of thinking about it torre sources in making sure you're measuring it. we thought they were great at measuring. >> going back to that $600 billion. there's new wealth being created all the time. so that sets the tone for countless... we're talking trillions over time. it isn't just a static one-time thing. there will be more coming next year and the year after and they will look at what people did before. you hope to establish the norm. >> establish a new norm in terms of what's appropriate. how did you settle on 50%? >> >> we talked about in the that group... >> rose: that number came out of the group out of the... >> it's not a maximum. i think there will be some...
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well, chuck feeney already has. >> come closer to... way beyond 50. >> the sentiment in the discussion was get people if in because once you get in... it will be rare that somebody will stop at 50%. in a sense if you say to them you give the majority because it's got a clear simple sound to it and take it from there. if you make that bar of coming in, which does involve thinking about your assets and different people around you. but once you take that step, our feeling is that the average giving in will be far in excess of that 50%. >> because once you get going and start giving, there's a momentum. that was true for us early on where we thought we knew how much and enjoy it so much we're giving in our lifetime. >> rose: what was the enjoyment?
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>> knowing you can give a child in the chance in the united states to get a great education. ul we're doing is setting them on their way. you're handing them the opportunity, getting them a that starting line where we might have started because our parents could afford a great education. >> there's two ways, one is the outcome it's also the process. because in education you're meeting teachers who are frustrated, meeting students who have potential that hasn't been realized. when you sit down with groups like that, you've got a common cause, you're going go after it, somebody's going to come up with the new ideas. just the activity of being involved for those who choose to put the time in is everybody bit as stimulating as any piece of business making money activity. >> and you believe just on terms of the specifics and we've talked about this program before you can what you can do in terms of hunger, what you can do in terms of poverty. and if you raise the poverty
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level it will affect the population question. i mean, the numbers for children... fatalities in children will stun you. if that can't make you want to make a commitment. >> the fact that it can be brought down. about nine million children die a year. it's one of many cause cans, it's one that grabs me and there are different things people can do to go after that. and philanthropy will be very catalytic in terms of how quickly we get that down. the six million, the three million think of how much more just the world is. in 1960 that number was 20 million. and now we have a lot more births. so we've made some good progress between philanthropy, science, government, giving. there are problems that appear intractable when put on the right course.
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things can improve a huge amount. >> rose: warren, you've made a lot of people rich, you know a lot of people who are rich. >> i know a lot who aren't in that forum, too. i can add to that a little bit. >> rose: do you think there is within those people you know some... that this ought to resonate and is likely to resonate because you know who they are? you know how they think? >> some of them are self-starters on it. the ones earlier, many are in their 80s now and some of them giving away substantialments. we're not talking about 50%, we're talking 90% or 95% with these people. others will join in. i never go out and slis ted anybody personally on that but once they see the existence of this sort of thing and see some of the people that are mutual friends of ours, there's no
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question more money will come up. >> i think over time warren introduced us to some of those friends over the last 20 years. again, hearing what they had already done and what the possibilities were if it was education. it's knowing it's possible, i think is what drives a lot of people to say it's doable, i want to do it. >> charlie, i have a group of 50 oar 60 people who get together every two years, i call it the graham group after ben graham. in 1999 i assigned bill the talk the evolution of my philanthropic thinking. i would say in the 42 years we've been doing it, that was probably listened to more carefully and remembered best by the people in that group of any talk we've had in that whole time. i'm sure that affected some of those people in what they did in the subsequent ten or 11 years. if we can get that one talk by bill... (laughter) >> rose: what was it you think that resonated so much? >> it was a logical and
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emotional story of how somebody fairly young... how we got to where it was because we didn't start there. and it was compelling. and people were on the edge of their seat. i wish i'd taped it. i will guarantee you of those 50 or 60 people in the room that listened to that, some of them changed their behavior because of that. and they're glad they did. >> i could feel the same dedication, fanaticism, wow, this is how this should be done. that i brought to the software world my whole life that speech was somehow more fun to give than almost any speech i'd given and what looked to be complicated, okay, it's not a supercomplicated thing. actually to be boiled down to a few metrics like the number of children who survive and a few conditions that caused that and
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a few things like vaccines you need go after. so it's not necessarily that specific thing but i think people were surprised that, wow, he doesn't like things that are soft. he doesn't like things that aren't measurable. he's clearly had a lot of positive feedback in his career and here you can see that. >> it really was catalytic for me. >> when bill was getting ready for the speech we took several long walks. to think of how you're going to explain your giving to somebody sells tricky and then after it we took several walks which is how we tend to process together to say based on that and what we heard in the room, is there anything we want to change about our giving? that's what so's so great when you go to the somebody else why you've done what you've done and the frame new york which you're doing it. it ended up being very fun for both of us. >> and when we met these 20 couples we asked them to do the same thing. they didn't know when they came
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they were going to be asked so they had to do it spontaneously. >> rose: the question was what you asked them? >> i asked and everybody answered it. tell me evolution of your philanthropic thinking. how did you get to where you are now? because you didn't start this way. they told store stories, it may have been in terms of things personally with their family, or that they strug struggled for a long time to make their first dollar. but they each had their journey and as people listened to those journeys they were affected just like my group was when bill gave that talk. >> rose: i think you said once he took the speech more seriously than any speech you had seen him face ever before. >> in quite some time, yeah. in terms of just really stopping and thinking it through deeply. thinking through how he wanted to explain how he'ddom the various piecesover it, yeah, definitely. >> rose: what we can hope comes out of this in part is back to your point. that people ask themselves to
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think about how they... >> well, susie was there with me and she said "why aren't you giving more?" (laughter) >> rose: it's a powerful idea and congratulations and thank you for taking this time to talk about it. the giving pledge is the idea. think about it yourself and think about the idea that had been expressed here and clearly think about the kinds of things that motivate you. think about what it is that touches your own heart and what it is that affects your own emotion because that is where you will find the deepest satisfaction. thank you for joining us. see you next time.
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